Last year’s trip to San Francisco was fun, but this past weekend’s was better in so many ways. For one thing, we had a car. Not a rental, but that of our lovely friend Rina who loves baking as much as we do and knew all the bakery hot spots. We only had time for a few, but it was more than I could have ever covered without a car in a matter of hours.
The first stop was Tartine, where we parked across the street. Rina opened the trunk of her car and pulled out a dozen homemade red velvet cupcakes saying “You don’t have to eat them if you don’t want” Silly Rina. This was the second time I’d come to San Francisco and been met by a reader who baked. I was already plotting how I could get the cakes home in my suitcase. First, we had to try Tartine.
For some reason, I’d imagined Tartine as an elegant pastry shop. It’s not. Tartine is a wildly popular San Francisco bakery café with communal tables, funky art on the wall, loud music and pastries and pressed sandwiches. The line is always out the door, but we found it moved fast and were able to grab a table and sample a few things. My favorite was the zucchini cake that was packed to the brim with fruit and nuts. I liked how the nuts offset the sweetness of the cake and how it had so many different textures. We only ate a very small portion, though. The pressed sandwiches were so filling. Nothing at Tartine is light, not even the salad. Nobody around us seemed to mind!
Another cake that caught my eye but which we didn’t have room for was the lemon meringue cake. I love lemon meringue pie, but this is probably 10 times better. I wonder if this recipe is in the book?
From Tartine, we drove over to Citizen Cake, Elizabeth Falkner’s bakery and café. Having sort of met her the day before, I was even more excited to check out the bakery.
I gawked at all the sweets and bought some cookies to go – a chocolate espresso cookie…
… And the cleverly titled German Chocolate Chip Cookie. It was just a chocolate chip cookie with coconut and pecans, but calling it German Chocolate Chip made it so much more interesting and is part of the reason I’m now fascinated with Elizabeth Falkner, whose book Demolition Desserts was also on sale at the store. I decided to wait and buy it on Amazon.
Oh, and we took some photos.
Next stop was the Embarcadero, where we walked around looking for Snow globes and souvenirs. No luck in that department, so we walked over the Ferry Building which houses Cowgirl Creamery, a Scharffen Berger store, a couple of olive oil stores, and many other food markets and restaurants including the Miette bakery where I found the holy grail of macaroons.
I’ve eaten plenty of macaroons in my life, but this one was amazing – the kind of macaroon worthy of taking the time to bake. The filling tasted like what you’d find in a rich Bavarian cream doughnut and the cookie part was crispy on the outside, but moist and full of vanilla nut flavor. They were $1.50 each. Not cheap. But I wish I’d bought more. You see, I didn’t actually taste it at the store, but waited until I got back. If Miette had put out samples, I would have bought a dozen. Or maybe there were samples but I missed them? Oh well. We took more pictures. This one was in front of the Scharffen Berger store, where we bought t-shirts.
After the bakery tour, Rina dropped us off at our hotels where we put down our stuff and took some time for ourselves. I took a walk around San Francisco, made my way through the carnival that was Pier 39 and bought a snow globe, then ended up back at the hotel that night. I later found out that Katrina did the same thing and took even more pictures. She’d also gone to a Dinner with Rocco wine event the previous night and posted a picture of herself with Rocco. She gave me the wine .